Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Films You Should Watch

With summer imminent, my partner and I have been trying to catch up on our Netflix cue. And, hence, I bring you my list of great 2008 films with strong female characters that you really should check out as you relax with an iced tea (or Long Island iced tea) in the summer months. I'm only including films that are already out on DVD, for your renting ease. Please add your suggestions in the comments!

Four 2008 Films You Should Rent This Summer
(in no particular order)

1. Let the Right One In

If you like stark, beautiful, bloody vampire films set during the dark, snowy Norwegian winter, then you'll love this film. It's gorgeously shot, smartly executed and features amazing performances by two 12-year-old actors: Kåre Hedebrant, who plays Oskar, a boy plagued by school bullies, and Lina Leandersson as Eli, the vampire stuck in a child's body who befriends him.

2. Happy Go Lucky

There's good reason this film was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar and that Sally Hawkins won a Golden Globe for her role in this charming, sharp vehicle about a woman named Poppy and her incurable optimism. But Happy-Go-Lucky isn't just your run-of-the-mill playful comedy; it's also a thoughtful exploration of the human psyche and much more complex than it's cheerful title might suggest. Happiness, like all things, is in the eye of the beholder. And besides the joy of watching a smart comedy, I also really loved the heartfelt and completely uninhibited friendship between Poppy and her best friend/roommate Zoe (Alexis Zegerman).

3. I've Loved You So Long

Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein will take your breath away in this poignant French drama about two estranged sisters who were separated by a horrible tragedy and reconnect after fifteen years. A truly phenomenal actor, Kristin Scott Thomas only gets better and better, and I think this might be one of her most stunning performances to date. She and Zylberstein will break your heart and then slowly put it back together as their characters reconcile their shared history and come to terms with the traumas of the past.

4. Rachel Getting Married

I never gave Anne Hathaway much thought before I saw this film and now...I absolutely adore her. She's really quite brilliant as the black sheep, home from rehab to attend her sister's wedding. The film is equal parts heartrending drama and familial comedy, betrayal and forgiveness, guilt and redemption. Touching and clever and full of music (TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe guest stars as the groom), it's no small wonder that Anne Hathaway was nominated for an Oscar and the film came out to critical acclaim this past summer.

But those are just some films I've enjoyed? What would you recommend I watch this summer?

(PS: Isn't it funny how all the film posters/DVD covers seem to favor the same basic layout--i.e. the face of the leading lady offset to the right and surrounded by text and critics' praise? Interesting...)


Dr. Jay SW said...

I appear to be the only person in existence who thinks Rachel Getting Married was the best film that came out last year...and that Let the Right One In has the most sweet and touching romantic ending (the swimming pool scene) of any movie I've ever seen. Ah well...haven't seen the other two (and don't think I've even heard of Happy Go Lucky) but shall check 'em out...

Aviva DV said...

Actually, Jay, I would totally agree with you about Rachel Getting Married if I hadn't seen Happy-Go-Lucky, which unceremoniously usurped it as my favorite movie of 2008. That said, I still love RGM and Let the Right One In was freakin' amazing.

AD Miller said...

I'm going to suggest everyone add Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy to their netflix queue. I watched it when it appeared in theaters last year, but I just requested it from Netflix myself as I'd like to give it another look. I loved Richardt's last film, Old Joy, and plan to teach one of her films next spring when I'm teaching a course on the Indie American film. Jay, given your interest in all things outdoorsy and hiking-related, you should see Old Joy if you haven't already. I think you'll like it! Hmm. Perhaps I'll compose a post about Wendy and Lucy after I rewatch it.

Amber Leab said...

I've seen all but Let the Right One In. Check out Bitch Flick's (www.btchflcks.com) reviews of Rachel Getting Married (we had so much to say that it took two entries) and Happy Go Lucky. I'm currently working on a review of I've Loved You So Long, which is a gorgeous film.